In a recent article, Matt Landau, founder of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog, interviewed vacation rental industry leaders about their predictions for 2015. Landau’s article provides excellent insight into where these organizations are anticipating growth and change in the industry. We thought this would be a great opportunity to go through each of these predictions and see where Stay Alfred fits into the big picture. If you are interested in reading Matt’s article in full, head over to his great blog.
- “The Year of The Aquisition,” Dennis Schaal, News Editor at Skift: HomeAway will be acquired by Booking.com or Expedia. Stay Alfred’s take: With over 120 properties listed on both HomeAway and Booking.com, this would be great for increasing our exposure to an even larger customer base.
- “The Year of the Vacation Rental Professional,” Ben Edwards, President of VRMA: With increased regulation looming, it will be more important than ever that the industry is run professionally. Stay Alfred’s take: It looks like we’re ahead of the curve. As a professional vacation rental company, we already pay the taxes, have the licenses, and follow the regulations that will have mom-and-pop shops playing catch up.
- “The Year of VR Partner Services,” Eric Horndahl, VP of Marketing for FlipKey: As vacation rentals grow and cut into the traditional hotel market share, we will see a rise in new companies offering tailored services specifically to VR businesses and travelers. Stay Alfred’s take: By keeping most things in-house, we’ve avoided needing any of these outside vendors. One exception is Glad To Have You, which makes a great product. See #5.
- “The Year of Instant Bookings,” Jen O’Neal, Founder & CEO of Tripping.com: Spurred by Airbnb’s growth and HomeAway’s announcement that 100% of their listings will be instantly bookable by 2016, competing rental sites are upgrading their technology to support real time bookings. Stay Alfred’s take: We were doing this 2 years ago. Welcome to the future.
- “The Year of the Lifestyle Concierge,” Chip Conley, Head of Global Hospitality & Strategy at Airbnb: Guest are choosing vacation rentals for the whole experience, not just for a place to lay their head. As hosts, we are in a perfect position to provide insider knowledge and facilitate a memorable travel experience. Stay Alfred’s take: GTHY’s customizable app is a great way for the host to act as the local tour guide for their guests.
- “The Year of the Personalized and Seamless User Experience,” Jia En Teo, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder at Roomorama: Combining seamless instant booking with personalized 24-hour customer support (with actual human beings) will become the standard for professional VR managers. Stay Alfred’s take: It’s certainly true that 24/7 customer support is one of the key differentiating factors in our success (once again, all in-house).
- “The Year that Prices Stopped Mattering,” Yvonne Finlay, VP of Operations at Homestay.com: As techology continues to improve the ability of travelers to evaluate an expanding array of options, price considerations will take a back seat to value considerations. Stay Alfred’s take: This shows the importance of guest reviews. People don’t mind paying a little more if they know it’s going to be worth it.
- “The Year of Airbnb...That’s It,” Joshua Dorkin, Founder & CEO of Bigger Pockets: These guys have taken over the industry. Game over. Stay Alfred’s take: Isn’t that what they said about Napster?
- “The Year of Legal Headwinds,” Mike Sullivan, Co-Chair, Hospitality Practice Group at Greenberg Traurig, LLP: Expect pressure on three fronts: local zoning law compliance, enforcement of applicable tax laws, and pushback from the hotel industry due to decreasing market share. Stay Alfred’s take: Unlike many private owners, we’ve made sure to position ourselves on the right side of the law from the very beginning. Bring ‘em on.
- “The Year of Analytics,” Amber Mayer, Chief Marketing Officer of The St. Joe Company: Business intelligence and data mining software are becoming more affordable for small to medium size companies, and the savvy VR manager will be quick to adopt these powerful tools. Stay Alfred’s take: If you’re running a small operation, start with Google Analytics before you go spending spending money on fancy software.
“The Year of Differentiation,” Matt Landau, founder of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog: Right now, the industry is a big glob. To take advantage of untapped niches, VR owners and managers will splinter off and form their own unique specialty rentals. Stay Alfred’s take: We couldn’t say it better ourselves. There is a perfect market for every rental, what’s yours?